A festival to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a crucial coastal conservation campaign has been launched by The National Trust this month.

The Neptune Coastline campaign was set up in 1965 to protect the coast from the threat of development and to protect it for future generations.

Nick Lawrence, assistant director for the National Trust in the South West, said: “The South West coast is a fantastic asset and a great shared achievement. It’s a big part of why so many of us love the South West, but it wouldn’t be as beautiful as it is without 50 years of public support for the Neptune campaign.

“As a charity, it costs us £3,000 to look after each mile of coast each year, most of which was acquired through generous donations, gifts and legacies. That’s a cost of £1million pounds just to manage our existing coastline in the South West and ensure access is maintained.”

The year-long Coastal Festival will include a series of fundraising events from a series of mass beach cleans this month to a big beach picnic in July. Events which will help tell the stories of our coastline, celebrate everyone’s personal connections and memories as well as shining a light on the charity’s work and cause.

Nick added: “Public support is vital to protecting the coast in the future, which is why we are offering lots of opportunities this year to join in coastal events, volunteer on the coast, or support coastal conservation through joining or donating.”

Over the last 50 years, public and partnership support have raised over £65 million, enabling the Trust to safeguard 745 miles of coastline across England, Wales and Northern Ireland (300 miles of which are in the south west).

The South West coast is visited and enjoyed by more than 22 million people every year, with 63 per cent of people regarding visiting the seaside or coast as important to their quality of life. Alex Raeder, head of conservation in the South West, stressed that the ongoing protection of these places is essential if our coast is to remain beautiful and accessible for future generations.

“The South West coast has stunning landscapes, great heritage and archaeology, award-winning beaches, a mosaic of coastal and marine habitats, and lots of open access for the public to enjoy it all.

“With our partners, we’ve seen some great conservation successes on the coast, but we know we have much more to do. Long term, the best way to respond to the challenges of a changing climate and sea level rise, declines in biodiversity and damage to the marine environment, is to make space for nature and people, so that our coastline functions as naturally as possible.

“We want to use the opportunity that 2015 presents to look at how we work together towards a South West coast that is rich in wildlife and culture, with space for people to enjoy it. We’ll be talking with our partners, farming tenants, neighbours and local communities to explore opportunities to extend and connect nature-rich coastal habitats, while at the same time increasing access for people, building on the fantastic success that is the South West Coast Path.”